mini-reviews, 5

First, second, third, fourth

Public Enemies


Ah, the 1930’s. The curly hair, the cigarette smoke, the jazz singer, the slow dance, the red, red lips. The outlaw, the girl that has to be got, the agent of the law. The stuff film noir is made of. The 1930’s meant all these things, and also the Great Depression, economic poverty so awful it actually required a name in uppercase. But in the cinema we don’t smell the dirty clothes, the stale breath, we don’t feel the heat. So even here, the Great Depression is beautiful. How cool John Dillinger and the rest of his men look in trenchcoats, with those hats, how stylish, how slick. This is not the History of John Dillinger; in the film, we learn nothing more than what he tells Billie. My father beat me up when I was a kid, and I’m into you. The film is about the chase, and the power of Dillinger’s mere presence. And why learn about his past? Why care? Dillinger says It’s not about where we came from, it’s where we’re going. The lines in the film are very calculated, very Hollywood. You’re toast, etc. Much like Clark Gable’s lines in Manhattan Melodrama, the last film Dillinger sees before he is shot to death. He’s living in a film, the people outside the police car shouting at him are fans, and so he waves. He has the right to say It’s not about where we came from, it’s where we’re going, and not be called cheesy.

G.I. Joe

What the world needs now is another film based on Hasbro toys. So sayeth Hollywood and here we are. I watched it just two days ago and I can’t recall much of anything, except Hot brunette Sienna Miller is hot. It’s okay, the special FX in some of the earlier scenes made me cringe (I mean seriously, can’t the producers spend more money?), but it’s, erm, well it’s an action film featuring the military, so it’s loud and it’s nuts. I thought the chase in Paris was fun.

It’s bearable. More bearable than the craptastic Transfomers 2, but far less fun than, let’s say, Star Trek, or even the first Transformers.

Channing Tatum can’t act. Watching his facial expressions not change is painful. Sienna Miller is so hot it’s painful.


Who Stole the Funny? by Robby Benson


Benson has directed episodes of shows like Ellen and Friends, so he knows his stuff. In this novel, he writes about director J.T. Baker, who has a son in need of a kidney transplant. Baker, who has moved away from Hollywood to teach and has vowed never to enter a soundstage again, is called forth to guest-direct the hit show My Urban Buddies (which is Friends, only on liquid Vicodin). If he succeeds in directing three episodes, he gets to renew his Directors’ Guild insurance and pay for whatever medical procedure his son needs. Who Stole the Funny? tells the story of a single week on and off the set of the Buddies show. On almost every page is a box, a word, and a definition for that word, in case you don’t speak Hollywood. For example, Baker is believed to be a passionate director.

The Passionate: Troublemakers. Loose cannons. Delusional shmucks who believe they can elevate the quality of the show. Passion in television is bad – very bad!

I had fun reading it. I’d like to see it on the big screen.

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